Buckeyes, Eagles set for rematch
The Buckeyes won the first meeting in overtime, 66-61.
WEST LAFAYETTE. Ind. (AP) -- Jim Foster cringes at the notion top-seeded Ohio State plays finesse basketball.
He coaches one of the nation's best post players in Jessica Davenport, a solid interior compliment in Debbie Merrill and a rebounding advantage that would satisfy most teams.
But since the Buckeyes usually stay out of foul trouble, the perception is they prefer avoiding slugfests, something they likely can't avoid tonight against eighth-seeded Boston College.
For the Buckeyes, it's another chance to prove their detractors wrong.
"We work very, very, very hard at staying in front of the ball and not fouling," Foster said Monday. "We're a strong team and a very disciplined team defensively."
Besides, Foster figures, you can't win the Big Ten regular season championship and tournament title, earn a top seed in the NCAA tournament and advance to the NCAA regional semifinals on finesse alone.
Ohio State (29-2), which was eliminated in the regional finals last year, has no intention of falling short this time.
Good shooting team
While their resume includes being one of the nation's most potent 3-point teams, shooting 40 percent, they have also fared reasonably well against opponents with strong interior players.
After losing by 16 at home to LSU in December, they went 2-1 against Purdue and beat Oklahoma 75-71 in January. They also won 66-61 in overtime at Boston College on Dec. 3.
Tuesday's rematch promises to be even tougher.
The Eagles (20-11) had a 48-31 rebounding edge in the first contest, but have seen Ohio State transform itself into a better team both inside and outside.
Since limiting Davenport, the Big Ten's player of the year, to 12 points and five rebounds in December, Merrill has become a major factor and the Buckeyes have won all 21 games that Ashley Allen has started at the point. Allen missed the first Boston College game.
To the Eagles, the combination poses as much of a challenge physically as it does mentally.
"It's hard not to focus on Jess because you've got to neutralize her as best you can," coach Cathy Inglese said. "At the same time, they've got good guard play. You can't take away everything, so hopefully you take away the bigger parts."
Boston College has the brawn to do that.
Eagles big inside
Kathrin Ress and Lisa Macchia both stand 6-foot-4 while Brooke Queenan is 6-2, and all three are strong enough to make life difficult inside as Notre Dame found out Sunday.
The trio combined for 43 points and 23 rebounds, knocked out Notre Dame's best interior player, Courtney LaVere with a concussion and repeatedly drew fouls in the paint in a 78-61 win.
If Ohio State's guards shoot better than they did in Sunday night's 68-45 victory over Oakland, they'll pose more problems for Boston College.
But if the Buckeyes must get physical, they want to show the college basketball world that they can slug it out, too.
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